Marines honored for heroism
Monday, December 24, 2007

PALMER - Months after Three Rivers natives Jeshua G. Charette, 19, and Josef P. Charette, 18, pulled a family and their dog from the Chicopee River, people are still talking about the rescue.

"People really supported us and have thanked us," said Jeshua Charette.

Yesterday the brothers were honored by the Massachusetts Humane Society near the bridge where they made the daring rescue.

State Sen. Stephen M. Brewer, D-Barre, presented the brothers with silver medals and a check for $5,000 each from the society during a ceremony at AAGGO Movers on Bridge Street in Three Rivers. State Rep. Todd M. Smola, R-Palmer, also presented the brothers with citations for their courage.

The commendations came as a surprise to Jeshua Charette, a lance corporal in the Marine Corps, and Josef Charette, a Marine private, who thought they were meeting friends and family while on leave along with their cousins Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew N. Charette, 19, of Wales, and Marine Pfc. Daniel P. Ciejka, 18, of Three Rivers.

"We didn't know they would do something like this for us," Josef Charette said. "It feels pretty good."

On May 27 Josef Charette was riding his bike over the Bridge Street bridge when he heard people screaming in the water below. A man was in the water with his three young children and dog in a partly submerged canoe, stuck where the Ware and Quaboag rivers meet to form the Chicopee River. Josef called his brother, who was nearby, and together they went into the river to help the family and their dog to safety.

"In this day and age, we seldom see this type of heroism. These brothers disregarded their own personal safety to help the family," said Three Rivers Fire Chief Patrick J. O'Conner. O'Conner also said the brothers' actions prevented loss of life.

"The rocks in that water are razor sharp, and those kids would have been chewed up. There would have been a definite loss of life if these two had not jumped in to help," he said.

Brewer called the brothers true heroes.

"We equate heroism with people we see on TV or admire famous people just because they are famous, but the real heroes oftentimes walk among us. They are the emergency personnel, the police department, the fire department who help every day," he said.

"The ultimate heroes are the men and women who wear the uniforms of the United States Armed Services. Here are two young people who serve our country and our community."

The brothers' father, Gerard Charette, and their grandfather, Normand Charette, both of Three Rivers, were present at the event with many other relatives and friends.